Cocktail Ingredients: Homemade Orgeat Syrup

Among cocktail ingredients, orgeat syrup is somewhat esoteric. There is one colossally classic drink that requires it – the Mai Tai – and several other unusual and not-often-seen cocktails that call it into service as well, including the Momisette, “the Japanese cocktail” and the Trinidad Sour. The main thing that orgeat brings to the table is a milky, nutty sweetness, often used to balance out strong bitter flavors. I was eager to make a Trinidad Sour at home, a drink known for its overwhelmingly heavy use of Angostura bitters as a primary ingredient, and sought out some orgeat. Commercial versions are available, most commonly one from Fee Brothers, but the ingredient list will turn off anyone opposed to the use of corn syrup and artificial flavors in their cocktails. Making orgeat at home is not that difficult, but does require a bit of time and procuring some orange blossom water, a minor but vital ingredient.

I followed the recipe found on Imbibe’s website. It will take a total of 6 hours or so, most of it spent soaking chopped-up almonds in water. And, other than the orange blossom water, the ingredients are simple – raw sliced almonds, water, a bit of vodka, and sugar. Once made, the orgeat syrup will last for several weeks, but I highly recommend making use of it in a variety of cocktails to get a feel for what orgeat can do. One thing to note is that the milky color and density of the syrup has a tendency to make cocktails look like absolute crap (see photo of Trinidad Sour below, one of the ugliest cocktails I’ve ever seen).

So, on with the cocktails. The Trinidad Sour is for the bold among you (seriously, this is heavy duty stuff), the Japanese Cocktail is for the distinguished (brandy is the predominant note), the Momisette is for those eager for refreshing invigoration (a sweet take on pastis), and the Mai Tai, well, for those who want to Tiki (party!). Here are the recipes:

The Trinidad Sour
1 oz Angostura bitters
1 oz orgeat syrup (I personally prefer to up this to 1 1/2 oz, but start with 1 oz)
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz rye, such as Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond

Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Japanese Cocktail
2 oz brandy
½ oz orgeat syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a chilled glass and garnish with lemon peel.

1½ oz Pernod or other pastis
½ oz orgeat syrup
Sparkling mineral water

Add pastis and orgeat to a tall glass, add ice, top off to taste with sparkling water.

Mai Tai
2 oz rum (the original called for 17-year old J. Wray & Nephew Rum)
½ oz orange curacao
½ oz orgeat syrup
3/4 oz fresh lime juice

Shake vigorously with ice and strain into an old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig.

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